March 27, 2023

The Pitchers: The 4 Levels of Greatness – Part 2

October 1, 2011 by · 6 Comments 

The CAWS Career Gauge has identified only fifty-one (51) 20th century major league pitchers who have obvious Hall of Fame numbers.

In Part 1, I introduced the thirty-nine (39) 20th century pitchers in Levels 1 and 2.  These were the pitchers identified by the CAWS Gauge as having posted HOF numbers during their playing careers and who (for the most part) also had the highest CAWS career scores among such pitchers.  We saw that of these thirty-nine (39) pitchers all who have been eligible are in Cooperstown except for three “old-timers” (pitched before 1930): Wilbur Cooper, Jack Powell and Carl Mays.

In this article, I will present the twelve (12) other 20th century pitchers who posted HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.  What we will see is that these pitchers did not pitch as many career innings as those in Levels 1 and 2 but still managed to turn in such outstanding numbers that they have clearly earned a place in the Hall of Fame.

Of the twelve (12) pitchers in Levels 3 and 4, six are in the Hall of Fame and four are not yet eligible.  Only two have been snubbed so far and both are relief pitchers: Lee Smith and Dan Quisenberry.

The CAWS Gauge has identified two standards to determine who has HOF numbers in Levels 3 and 4.  Each of these accomplishments is judged to be worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame.

Level 3 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings  =  7

Level 4 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 155 in Fewer than 1500 Innings  =  5

When dealing with pitchers, it is essential to recognize the importance of taking into account the fact that there have been some truly outstanding pitchers who have established very impressive numbers in a relatively short period of time.  And, of course, to also recognize that relief specialists are going to pitch significantly fewer innings than starters.

Therefore, it is imperative to study the numbers very carefully in order to recognize (and to honor) the pitchers who fit into these two groups.  And I think the CAWS Gauge has done this.

I will present here those pitchers who fit into each of these two categories.  After that, I will indicate the sixteen (16) 20th century major league pitchers who are in the Hall of Fame but who do not appear to have the career numbers to justify their being there.

All numbers include the 2010 season (unless indicated)
Bold  =  Hall of Famer
CWS  =  Career Win Shares
CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)
CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)
IP  =  Innings Pitched
*=  Deadball Era

Level 3  -  Pitchers with a CAWS score > 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings

In the entire 20th century, I have found only seven (7) pitchers who do not qualify for Levels 1 and 2 but who do satisfy the standard for Level 3.  And every one of these pitchers who has been eligible has been elected to the Hall.  (I should also note that Mariano Rivera who is in Level 4 would also qualify here.)

Pedro Martinez 2297 224 200 206
Addie Joss* 2327 191 191 191
Sandy Koufax 2324 194 190 191
Hoyt Wilhelm 2254 256 168 190
Goose Gossage 1809 223 173 186
Roy Halladay
2297 194 183 186
Dizzy Dean 1967 181 180 180

These numbers represent career numbers for those five pitchers who are already in the Hall of Fame.  For Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay, they represent their career totals through thirteen seasons.  That is, each of these two recent pitchers took only thirteen seasons to establish HOF pitching credentials.  Of course, neither is eligible yet for election to the Hall.

Five of these great pitchers were starters during their careers.  But Hoyt Wilhelm and Goose Gossage achieved their greatest recognition as relief pitchers.

In Level 4, we honor those “true” relief pitchers who had really outstanding careers.  That is, those few relief pitchers who were able to post a CAWS score of 155 in fewer than 1500 innings.  This is a very tough standard.  As you can see, only five relievers have met the standard so far.

Level 4  -  Pitchers with a CAWS score > 155 in Fewer than 1500 Innings

Mariano Rivera 1150 241 175 192
Bruce Sutter 1042 168 163 164
Lee Smith 1289 198 152 164
Billy Wagner
903 182 151 159
Dan Quisenberry 1043 157 155 156

These are the only relievers of the 20th century who satisfy these criteria.

One look at Mariano Rivera’s numbers would appear to bear testimony to the fact that he is the best pure reliever in history.  His numbers really are far superior to any one else in this category.

Bruce Sutter is the only one on the list who is already in Cooperstown.  Lee Smith is still on the BBWAA ballot.  He got 45% of the vote in 2011 in his ninth year on the ballot – so he still has a chance at election.  Mariano and Billy Wagner are not yet eligible.  Only Dan Quisenberry in this group has been passed over completely.

Just for comparison purposes, I list here a few other very good relievers.  None of these pitchers reached the CAWS standard.

Trevor Hoffman
1089 188 135 148
John Franco 1246 183 128 142
Mike Marshall
1387 146 139 141
Kent Tekulve 1436 159 135 141

Note that Trevor Hoffman, despite over 600 saves, still does not quite make the mark.

These then are the twelve (12) pitchers who qualify for Levels 3 and 4.  These twelve together with the thirty-nine (39) pitchers in Levels 1 and 2 represent the fifty-one (51) 20th century pitchers who have Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS Career Gauge.

It is interesting to note that of these fifty-one pitchers only four have so far been passed over completely for induction into the Hall: Wilbur Cooper, Jack Powell and Carl Mays (all of whom pitched before 1930) and Dan Quisenberry.

In light of these four deserving pitchers NOT being in Cooperstown, I will list here the sixteen (16) 20th century pitchers who are in the Hall but do not have the career numbers to be there according to the CAWS Gauge.

Pitchers Who are in the Hall of Fame but lack HOF Numbers

Rube Waddell 240 231 233
Jim Bunning 257 221 230
Don Drysdale 258 221 230
Red Faber 292 206 228
Bob Lemon 232 223 225
Dazzy Vance 241 216 222
Whitey Ford 261 202 217
Jack Chesbro 209 209 209
Waite Hoyt 262 189 207
Herb Pennock 240 188 201
Chief Bender 231 186 197
Catfish Hunter 206 184 190
Rube Marquard 208 180 187
Lefty Gomez 185 182 183
Jesse Haines 207 155 168
Rollie Fingers 188 144 155

Clearly, there will be some fans who will argue that one or more of these pitchers do indeed belong in Cooperstown.  Look how close Rube Waddell, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale came to the CAWS standard.  And what about Whitey Ford’s performance in the post-season (which, of course, is not counted here)?

It is really NOT the purpose of the CAWS Career Gauge to try to dictate who does or does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Rather, it is the goal of the CAWS Gauge to point out those players who did indeed post obvious Hall of Fame numbers during their playing careers – so that such players do receive the recognition to which they are due.

Or, put another way, why should Jim Rice be in the Hall of Fame and not Dick Allen?  Or why should Rollie Fingers be honored and not Dan Quisenberry?

Thanks for your time.

Mike Hoban
Professor Emeritus – City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)


6 Responses to “The Pitchers: The 4 Levels of Greatness – Part 2”
  1. David says:

    Great series, Mike! I always appreciate your posts – especially the ones on the Hall of Fame/CAWS. You obviously put a lot of work into it, and it’s a really neat final product. Anyway, thanks for the contribution!

  2. MIKE HOBAN says:


    Thanks. We all do this stuff for love of the game but it is nice to hear that some fans enjoy what you write.


  3. Mike Lynch says:

    I second what Mike said!

  4. Todd says:

    I think I jumped the gun with my comments from your previous post. Your career gauge does certainly allow for the cream to rise the top so to speak. All of the level 3 pitchers seem more than deserving of the Hall. Thanks for your efforts, enjoyed both parts and only wish I could have witnessed such pitching greats as Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove.

  5. MIKE HOBAN says:


    Thanks. In establishing Levels 3 and 4 based on HOF benchmarks according to innings pitched, I think the CAWS Career Gauge has demonstrated an OBJECTIVE way in which worthy pitchers can be honored. Evaluating the careers of pitchers can be somewhat more difficult than the careers of position players.


  6. Hank Gillette says:

    Professor Hoban,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your series on the players’ qualifications for the Hall of Fame. There are some minor points that I am curious about.

    I do not see your logic for placing Mariano Rivera in Level 4 when he clearly belongs in Level 3. In fact, he would have the second highest CAWS score in Level 3. It seems to me that the CAWS score should dictate which level the player should be placed in rather than the number of innings pitched, as long as the player qualifies.

    You’ve used the term “obvious” Hall of Fame numbers several times in your articles. I understand that this is a matter of opinion, but other than Rivera (who belongs in Level 3), none of the pitchers in Level 4 strike me as “obvious” Hall of Fame players. My opinion is that any framework that says that Bruce Sutter is an obvious Hall of Famer and Whitey Ford isn’t values starters vs. relievers improperly.

    Other than those quibbles, your system seems to nicely balance career longevity vs. peak value.

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